Nat Reed brings glowing indie-soul and vulnerability to a Jamaica Plain dive bar

2/1/18 – Midway Cafe

On February 1st, indie-R&B singer Nat Reed stepped on stage at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain. Beneath the glow of wall-hung Christmas lights, a small crowd gathered to hear what she and her three band mates had in store. Reed’s self-titled record and two latest singles, “Flow” and “Selfish,” have already proved her ability to combine catchy, sensual song-scapes with poignant, vulnerable lyrics. Reed’s songs hide nothing, and her live show was no different.

Onstage, she proved herself to be a dynamic, passionate band-leader unafraid to shed light on her true self. She sang openly about living with a debilitating anxiety disorder, the trials and tribulations that come with it. The power of Reed’s songs blossomed over her band’s kinetic energy. Throughout the performance, Reed would turn away from the audience to face her bandmates. This positioning created an emerging intimacy in a distinguishably tight set.

With drums, bass, and piano, Reed’s band showcased an eclectic mix of soulful-pop music. Many of the songs were new, but the ones that have been recorded blended with the instrumentation and took on another personality. The setlist played out more like a film score than a pop showstunning piano fillers and bright crashing snare cascaded into funky baselines and sexy R&B beats.

“Just can’t get enough of you,” sang Reed, teasing the audience with the mysterious late-night love jam, “Lately” before breaking into a full version of “Close Your Eyes.” The swelling track played out like an epic voyage to a far-off island.

The final three songs were Reed’s strongest of the night.

First came a minimalist performance of “Flow,” a song Reed wrote in the midst of an anxiety attack. With just Reed and her drummer on stage. He kept time at his kit while she worked synth pads and sang: “There’s a map of me / Baby find my pieces / Explore me.” With these words, Reed put the folks at Midway Cafe in a trance.

The band regrouped to play “Selfish an honest (“I’ll write the truth until my hands are bruised and bloody / And hope that it saves me”), yet danceable track that is Reed’s catchiest work to date. Then the band closed out the evening with Reed’s darkest and most cutting track, “These Walls Have Ears.” As Reed belted, “I can’t accept myself,” it became apparent that, though she had struggles in life, she had also found a place to thrive: on stage.

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